Jamie Rockymore-Bess is adamant that it’s time to “stop the stigma and talk about mental health.” The Baltimore resident who founded Helpful Living Magazine with an ambitious and noble goal of spreading mental health awareness plans to launch the fourth edition of the magazine this month (November). The focus is on mental health and COVID.
“Over the past year, I heard a lot about mental health. But, since COVID-19 made an impact on America’s mental health, it’s a hard topic not to talk about,” Rockymore-Bess remarked.
The Notre Dame of Maryland graduate notes that the stigma surrounding mental illness and overall mental health has eased somewhat in the Black community. “People are becoming more open, and our younger generation wants to talk about it,” she exclaimed. “I feel like it’s the older generation who often say, ‘what goes on in this house stays in this house.’ They are the ones who may hide behind the stigma, and that can be dangerous on so many levels.” Rockymore-Bess, who also holds a degree in Psychology from Clarion University in Pennsylvania, also started a group called “Helpful Living-Let’s Help Each Other with Mental Health.”
“This will be a great place to start with for families and individuals who want to learn more and get a better understanding of their loved one that is dealing with mental illness,” she determined. “Another thing is to be open. It’s important to have that open dialog for someone because talking about mental health is difficult. It requires someone to put themselves in a vulnerable position and it means that someone will have to trust you, and we have to be mindful to respect people’s conversations and allow them to talk openly even when they are not feeling okay.
“We can’t always shoot out resolutions because truthfully, they may not be asking for that. Some people just want to vent, and we have to know the difference. When we show judgment or talk over someone by providing solutions, it can slow the process or cut ties with communication.”
For the latest edition of Helpful Living Magazine, Rockymore-Bess interviewed Baltimore Council President and Democratic Mayoral Nominee Brandon Scott; Dr. Karen Bethea of the Set the Captives Free Outreach Center in Windsor Mill; and Mental Health Advocate Kellene Diana.
“We were able to talk about the importance of mental health, and each one of them gave an interesting perspective from their own experience,” Rockymore-Bess said. “They all agree on the importance of spreading awareness by starting the conversation and being open to people who struggle with mental wellness. Each one of them wants people to know they are not alone when it comes to mental illness.”
Rockymore-Bess said she spent months researching, only to find health magazines with little dedication to mental health awareness. “I know there’s so much more to mental health, and it shouldn’t be narrowed down to one spread in a magazine. It needs its own platform,” Rockymore Bess decided. “I think because of the stigma, no one thought [a magazine dedicated to mental health] would be marketable. Now that people are more open about it, and the digital era has taken over. I also noticed many podcasts on mental health, but I guess you can say I am an old school. Not a lot of people have access to podcasts, or, if they do, there’s so many out there it’s hard to focus on the ones you want to listen to.”
The fourth issue of Helpful Living Magazine is available online at www.HelpfulLivingMag.com. It provides blog posts from Rockymore-Bess, as well as a Blogger’s Corner open to anyone who wants to contribute a guest post. Access to free digital copies will be provided.
The public is invited to sign up for the newsletter and to join Helpful Living Magazine’s Facebook Group where they can engage with writers for the magazine, network, practice self-care, and join a community that discusses bettering mental wellness.
“My goal is to get the community to recognize this magazine and help start conversations about mental health, which is really important during the holiday season and with COVID still here,” Rockymore-Bess said. Anyone can follow the magazine on Instagram at @HelpfulLivingMag.